Waiting game for Illini baseball

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota knocked Illinois out of the Big Ten tournament Friday, but Illini baseball coach Dan Hartleb doesn’t think his team has played its last game of the season.

“It’s disappointing, but we hope to live another day,” Hartleb said. “I feel we truly deserve to be in the NCAA tournament.”

Fifth-seeded Illinois lost 3-1 to the fourth-seeded Gophers, its second loss to Minnesota during the tournament at Target Field.

“It was a tough game,” Hartleb said. “We pitched extremely well and played well defensively, but just hit a bunch of bullets right at their defenders. We couldn’t come up with the two-out hits when we needed them.”

The Illini (34-18) hope to hear their name called during Monday’s NCAA selection show.

Minnesota scored three runs with two outs in the fourth inning against losing pitcher Ryan Castellanos (3-2), a freshman.

Illinois took a 1-0 lead after the Gophers committed an error in the second inning.

UI sophomore David Kerian advanced to second on a throwing error by Minnesota shortstop Michael Handel. Illini senior Davis Hendrickson drove in Kerian with a two-out single to left field.

Illinois’ bullpen kept the game close, allowing one hit in the final three innings, but the Illini’s offense couldn’t capitalize.

Freshman Tyler Jay pitched a scoreless sixth, and redshirt sophomore Drasen Johnson retired the side on six pitches in the seventh. Johnson also pitched the eighth inning, when Illinois turned its third double play of the game.

The Illini stranded runners on second and third in the seventh inning.

UI junior Thomas Lindauer, who went 1 for 4, extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. Hendrickson was 2 for 4 with an RBI, and redshirt sophomore Kelly Norris-Jones went 2 for 3.

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